GRIEF SONATA — Syble Heffernan

Part 1: The Exposition

August 29, 2019. It is an average morning by all accounts; I am both a university student and a writer, fervent in the mission to abandon every relative truth and alter the rhythm of hearts that beat to the definitive. Each particle of light in the morning is visible.

I notice a free piano in the corner of the basement coffee shop. I want to take it and teach myself to play, but there are no friends with a truck,  no strength to get it up to the second floor,  no space inside the second-floor room, which seems to warn “Stay out: or be tormented by memories of tranquility which will be no more.”

The avocado on the breakfast sandwich seemed an easy two dollar addition,  but the flavor of the last bite gets lost in the bitterness of calamity, and the water does nothing to soothe the throat.

“Longmont police investigating body found in sleeping bag Thursday morning,” 

“…1:50 a.m. about a block west of Main Street between east- and westbound 21st Avenue.”

“Police believe the man is 58 years old.”

No name is given and the age is ten years off. No one bore witness to the last breath,

there is not enough information to conclude the biography.

I write my father’s obituary with the correct age. I say his name.

I say it again, and again, and again.

The funeral comes and goes, the sympathies drone on, the dates on the syllabus unfold,

the pages pile up thirty or forty at a time, the sleepless nights become routine,

the free piano disappears, the avocado continues to cost two dollars extra,

\the date night is cancelled, the locksmith is called while the keys perch deceptively on the driver’s seat, the knuckles grow white on the steering wheel,

the leftover Chinese food makes it to the counter instead of the refrigerator and has to be thrown away in the morning,  the steps begin to drag, the hearts still beat to the rhythm of the definitive, and I no longer have the stamina to stop them;

each particle of light in the morning has become invisible.

Part 2: The Development

Dejection joins me in the bathroom before I can lock the door. It strokes beneath my eyes until the torment erupts in briny tears, indistinguishable from the water droplets;

running races down my face with hot urgency. It is hard to climb out using limbs that are losing their will to hold on or to fight; my body slumps against cold tiles, not thinking of whether or not they are clean. I close my eyes and wait for it to be over. Shoulders collapsing into themselves beneath the force of dejection’s grip. I am held under the current, gasping. My head curls backwards in defeat; wet hair framing pale face.The water droplets go cold and my body shrivels, unrecognizable. I hear the desperate shrieks of those who find me mangled by the currents, neck bruised from dejection’s belligerent kiss.

Most drownings occur in familiar waters.

Part 3: The Recapitulation

The only thing that warms this body / cold with grief / is the vehement desire to play the piano / coursing blood / tingling fingertips glossed in periwinkle / lusting to press themselves into the keys/ a melodious outpouring / of which I am the sole orchestrator / Melodies of days at work  I could not find the stamina to find the good in / Melodies of him / and me / in an apartment / on a weeknight /  Melodies of me / alone / Melodies of falling asleep to his heartbeat / and waking up

to his hands / of being awestruck by each erotic line etched into those hands /

yet petrified of relishing in his touch for too long / and turning to stone if one day I am deprived of it / Melodies to crash through the overhanging of bad news / of grief / the unexpected knock at the door / Melodies of procrastination / of joy I can only hope I find the words to describe

in my next life / and pain I hope I’ll never find the words to describe / Melodies of the last drops of wine / and lavender earl grey / gone cold on the ledge / because time got lost in the notes and chords / and carried me with it.


Syble Heffernan is an undergraduate International Studies and English student at Nebraska Wesleyan University. She started writing to entertain herself in small town Nebraska, and her passion for poetry took form as she filled journals on buses and garden benches during her year as an exchange student in Brazil. She participates in the spoken word organization at her university and is employed by the Nebraska Writers Collective. She has future goals of working in art/writing rehabilitation and reclamation efforts on a global scale. In addition to writing, she enjoys swimming, abstract painting, and dancing. More information can be found at: